California preparing to become national abortion "sanctuary" if Roe falls, maybe even paying for abortions

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

“Sanctuary” is a hell of a term to use for the practice of killing infants in the womb. You can thank Gavin Newsom for it in this case.

This development is a perfect illustration of the post-Dobbs abortion politics that I wrote about last night. Step one: Roe is overturned. Step two: As red states move to ban the procedure, blue states push radical measures to facilitate it. Step three: Pro-lifers jettison 50 years of “let the states decide” rhetoric and begin agitating for a federally imposed ban on abortion nationally.

Instead of Dobbs ending the abortion culture wars, it’ll turn control of the federal government into a political death struggle with legal abortion in blue states at stake every four years. (Unless SCOTUS steps in and decides that the feds can’t regulate abortion, that is.)

The first step hasn’t been taken yet but the tenor of last week’s SCOTUS oral arguments suggests that it likely will be. So California’s skipping ahead to step two, just to be ready.

“We’ll be a sanctuary,” Newsom said, adding he’s aware patients will likely travel to California from other states to seek abortions. “We are looking at ways to support that inevitability and looking at ways to expand our protections.”

California already pays for abortions for many low-income residents through the state’s Medicaid program. And California is one of six states that require private insurance companies to cover abortions, although many patients still end up paying deductibles and co-payments…

The report [from the California Future of Abortion Council] recommends funding — including public spending — to support patients seeking abortion for travel expenses such as gas, lodging, transportation and child care. It asks lawmakers to reimburse abortion providers for services to those who can’t afford to pay — including those who travel to California from other states whose income is low enough that they would qualify for state-funded abortions under Medicaid if they lived there…

[T]he report asks lawmakers to give scholarships to medical students who pledge to offer abortion services in rural areas, help them pay off their student loans and assist with their monthly liability insurance premiums.

Paying a stranger’s medical bills and their incidental expenses related to treatment reminds of what St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital does for kids with cancer. Except St. Jude’s tries to save children, not kill them.

CFAC isn’t some fringe group. Newsom co-founded it and it’s led by the president pro tem of California’s state senate. The prospect of California throwing taxpayer money at women in red states to make the trip to L.A. or San Francisco or wherever and enjoy a free abortion is a real one. And if this estimate is anywhere near accurate, business will be brisk:

CFAC expects that most of the demand will come from Arizona, which has a law on the books right now that will automatically ban abortion if Roe is overturned. Even if the number of out-of-state women seeking abortions in California post-Dobbs shakes out to be only half of the estimate above, California is still looking at a 15-fold increase. No wonder pro-choicers also want money appropriated to incentivize med students to become providers.

In fact, I’d expect all doctors across the state will eventually have cash dangled at them to begin performing abortions in order to cope with demand. Last night I wondered if, after Dobbs, the U.S. might paradoxically end up with more abortion providers than it had before. California’s plans point in that direction.

One wonders if other strategically positioned blue states might look to cash in on red-state abortion clients. Colorado is bordered by no less than five majority-Republican states. New Mexico shares a long border with Texas, America’s second-most populous state. Illinois has four red states to its west, south, and east. Minnesota could serve the Dakotas and Iowa. It wouldn’t be cheap for any of those states to defray the cost of abortions sought by non-residents but economists will eventually begin digging into the numbers to gauge whether the influx of “abortion tourism” might actually be a net economic benefit. Either way, the expense won’t be a burden to California, or at least not at first: The AP notes that the state has a $31 billion budget surplus.

If I lived there, I’d be royally pissed that my state government was spending money on abortions for non-residents instead of on priorities that would benefit me and other Californians. Why should my tax dollars provide a benefit to someone who’s not contributing to the state’s welfare and who could have moved there at any time prior to becoming pregnant but didn’t? There’s potential for a backlash here against state Democrats as they begin looting their state treasuries to make all of America’s abortion dreams come true.

But it’s only potential. California being California, the locals might be so fanatically pro-abortion that they’re willing to pick up the tab for the western United States. If you thought the abortion wars were ugly during the Roe era, wait until the Dobbs era.